Mark Higginson

The web is a social artifact.

This short manifesto covers what I hold to be self-evident about modern marketing practices, particularly related to online activity.

This piece about how people's attention flows on the web highlights the fundamental misunderstanding that causes almost all online marketing to be ineffective.

The blog that follows consists of a series of short posts that support my arguments.


07 February 2013

You just reviewed your own f***ing product. Absolutely ridiculous. How stupid do you think people are?

Nokia Reviews the Nokia Lumia 620 - They like it.

Here is the original post on Nokia’s own blog that is referenced on ‘Daring Fireball’.

The ‘Conversations by Nokia’ blog is typical of the kind of misguided corporate attempt to be a content destination. I am sure this site sees significantly higher traffic than most other such places due to its subject matter being the kind of thing that riles the denizens of the internet to action but it still has the hollow ring of inauthenticity about it. Other comments on the post I refer to include:

“Unfortunately, they can be pretty stupid. But yeah, this is high on the hilarity chart.”

“You do know what Nokia did for the Video recording demo of the 920 at rollout, right?”

“Woah! I also heard that Tim Cook thinks the iPhone 5 is the best smartphone yet!”

“Great idea! Eliminate the middle man entirely, this way you don’t need to send out demo phones to all the gadget sites. Ingenious.”

“Isn’t PureView that tech where you pretend to use your phone while actually using a DSLR on a steadycam in a van?”

“This is an advertisement. It should probably say clearly at the top that it’s an advertisement.”

“None. It’s idiotic to review your own product. Nobody else does it. It’s not a Nokia blog, it’s THE Nokia blog.”

“What will really take this to the next level is when they start quoting this review in their advertising.”

“Adam Fraser - curious, did you find any negatives of Lumia 620, in the extensive time you had spent ‘reviewing’ it?”

Nokia revised the title of the post subsequent to some of the reaction:

“Note: This article was first headlined as a ‘review’, obviously, it’s more of a hands-on account of Adam’s experiences and the headline has been changed to reflect that.”

What is interesting is how earlier appalling errors of judgement, such as the Lumia 920 launch video, are brought up whenever a commenter perceives a subsequent mistake to have been made. It starts to create a perception. Of course, there is a dilemma here. You are being ‘social’ be permitting comments therefore, to avoid an even worse backlash, have to permit criticism which becomes a near-permanent record of people’s reaction.

If you believe the ‘brand advocates’ rubbish being spun by marketing agencies then this is the road you end up going down. And the farther you go, the harder it gets to manage.

To be fair though the most insulting comment received 464 up-votes and only 18 down-votes so if it is pure participation you are after this counts as a win.

I did really like MeeGo though.

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06 February 2013

Natasha Khan

Bat for Lashes

I absolutely loved the design and layout of this interview with Natasha Khan on Pitchfork. Have a look and see what happens as you scroll-down the page. Simple but so effective.

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05 February 2013

Over the last year or so, we’ve been very aggressively, proactively cutting down on agency retainers not only because we have the cost pressures everybody does, but also why should we be paying agencies for them to take that knowledge? There’s no real long-term value for Nokia. The right investment is for us to have the right people internally.

How to build a social brand: The Nokia case study

The above is a quote from Tejal Patel of Nokia. She is spot on. If you are committing effort to your presence on the web and people’s perception of you as shaped by that presence then in my opinion you need a team with an implicit sense of:

This web presence can and should be the canonical source of everything about the business, encompassing the points I allude to above.

This is a very different proposition to the typical agency campaign-driven model of working. In fact, such a team can improve campaign-based work because of their long-term focus and understanding. As such I see these efficient, internal teams becoming the people who lead agency activity on the occasion that such work is required.

Businesses do not need ‘marketing managers’ whose responsibility is juggling the overlaps between multiple agencies; they need doers whose growing abilities and expertise are kept in-house, who pass on this knowledge and make it the fabric of the business.

Note: I should point out that the article I quote from refers to Nokia as a ‘social brand’ which I disagree with. Tejal Patel also refers to Nokia as a ‘challenger brand’ which I also disagree with. If you want to read a very long analysis of Nokia’s woes then try this.

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27 January 2013

While we’re a good-natured group, we have serious respect for designers and inventors alike, and we want to make sure the design community – including everyone involved with Quirky – has all of the information needed to understand what’s going on.

OXO, Crooks and Robbers…? via Baby Got Brooms

Quirky is a business that sources ideas for products from inventors via the internet and, having used its ‘community’ to select designs, puts these ideas into a process potentially leading to production.

Quirky is accusing OXO of appropriating a design from one of its inventors and ‘took to the streets’ to claim ‘justice for Bill Ward’. This could have been a public relations mess for OXO.

Have a read of how they handled it. Cool and calm. They headed off Quirky’s little-person versus big-person marketing stunt by schooling Quirky on how intellectual property works.

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25 January 2013

Marketing time and resources

While writing my last post I came across this apposite article on the Content Marketing Institute’s website. The chart is from a report conducted by a business called ExactTarget. The sample used is rather opaque: ‘US online population aged 18 or older’ and the question itself is somewhat unclear but it is the interpretation of the data that is most amusing.

The above indicates the disparity between what marketers think the public wants versus what the public says they want:

“When customers were asked where their favorite brands should invest their marketing time and resources to improve customer loyalty, just 6 percent answered that they want related (or helpful) content from a brand. In fact, more than double that number of consumers actually wanted to receive product-related content.”

Hmm. Where does that leave this description of the point of content marketing from elsewhere on their site:

“Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

Hence all this hype from marketers around this notion of ‘brands as publishers’ on the web. But the chart above is telling us in a slightly confused way that:

My interpretation of this is that the ‘consumers’ who responded were thinking about finding answers to product-related questions.

The writer of the aforementioned article comes to a rather different conclusion quoting a chap from the company that produced the report:

“If you really take a look at the research, consumers are actually desperate for content from brands, but like marketers they are fixated on channels,” says Rohrs. “When consumers ask for more email and Facebook, they are asking for helpful content through those channels. What are marketers going to put into those channels… air?”

Um. Are they really ‘desperate’? Is that what these people labelled as ‘consumers’ are asking for? It sounds as though people want to know about new products and when they are aware of them want to be able to find out the details easily and in their own time, hence the lack of desire for marketing messages through other social platforms.

The response to marketing through Facebook is not necessarily to do with ‘helpful content’ but is likely an indication of a willingness to consider ‘offers and promotions’. Have a read of this survey where the top responses to the question “I connect with brands on Facebook and other social networks” were:

Note that none of these are asking for ‘helpful content’ that is non-product-related.

Reminds me of this quote from The Ad Contrarian:

“We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.”

The conclusion of the original article is most ironic:

“Make sure you take your own personal behavior out of the equation before you make any type of content marketing channel decisions.”

Yes, such as being convinced that the service you are selling to clients is one that ‘consumers’ actually want!

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